Monday, June 11, 2007
Cocktails at the disco lounge..
Dimitri from Paris Presents Cocktail Disco (A Review)
First of all, I have to thank a kind reader, Miss Tanya Love and the good people at BBE for being kind enough to send me an advance copy. For the past week or so, I've been practically luxuriating in these deep, divine disco grooves; so I figure it's about time I put up a full review..
I remember some months back, at the beginning of the year, I was checking some message boards where people were asking something along the lines of "what's happened to Dimitri?" Just when people were wondering whether he'd gone on a hiatus or something, he comes out with this wonderful collection, which has probably been one of my most anticipated disco compilations this year. Although I had heard nothing but positive reviews from readers who had already heard it, I've always had a certain caution go along with the excitement of disco rarities compilations. Usually for every rare, uncovered gem, there are usually a couple of "what are they doing here?" duds.. Overall though, I'm happy to report that I haven't been let down this time.. Last summer, Soul Jazz's "A Tom Moulton Mix" compilation was a mainstay in my stereo; by the looks of things, "Cocktail Disco" is bound to be this year's replacement.
It's been about six years since I was introduced to Dimitri's work through his best selling mix/compilation "A Night At The Playboy Mansion" (2000, Astralwerks), which got almost endless spins on my Discman (anyone out there still use one of those?) back then. As someone who had only started seriously collecting disco at the time, hearing tracks La Pregunta's "Shangri-La" and The Originals' "Down To Love Town" alongside more current house and disco-influenced tracks was a sweet treat for this newbie.. After getting some of his other compilations, like "Disco Forever" (2000, BBE) and "Kings of Disco" (compiled with Joey Negro) (2004, BBE), I'd come to admire his dedication to digging deep into the depths of disco for little known album tracks and 12'' singles..
Unlike most others or any of Dimitri's previous comps, "Cocktail Disco" is described as his take on Disco's sleaze subgenre. There were DJ's such as Bobby Viteritti (who mixed the excellent Ray Martinez & Friends track on this compilation) whose sleaze sets have become somewhat legendary among circles of disco enthusiasts.. Although the term 'sleaze' maybe somewhat misleading (and I'm only loosely familiar with it, myself) it was not so much music that was literally sleazy, but a general term to describe the lower-tempo music played in the late/early morning hours. Often characterized as "pretty music" with bright, sweeping string sections, emotional lyrics ranging from the exhilariating joy of love found, to the pain of love lost; it was a subgenre with relatively loose parameters, and from what I've gathered, often allowed an opportunity for DJs to really stretch out creatively within their sets.. Although there aren't any Jean Carn/Phyllis Hyman sleaze mainstays on here; the string n' hi-hat heaviness and, at times, broadway-inspired, uplifting grooves seem to fit the sleaze quotient rather nicely, making this both a unique take on an intriguing subgenre and a trip through some long-forgotten, unexplored corners of the disco universe.
From the soulfully smooth cover of Gershwin's "Summertime" by The Blue Velvets, the refreshing love-struck highs of Darcus' "It's Got To Be Love," the elegant, supple vocal stylings of Ms. Victoria Barnes, to the Savannah Band leanings of Ray Martinez & Friends' "Lady of The Night" (mp3 link), the mind-flying trippiness of Terry Jacks' little known Can-Con disco nugget "Little High Thing" and the no-nonsense Philly groove of The Ritchie Family's "Frenesi" (perhaps the best known track here), there is really no shortage of disco revelations on here..
Aside from all those, one of the big revelations for me would have to be J. Elliot Group's "Disco Village" (mp3 link), produced by Jeffrey Parsons and Jeffrey Steinberg, the dynamic duo behind disco treasures Hott City and Cut Glass. Just when I thought those were the only two guises for this underrated production duo, this track shows up. Aside from this being a cover of Les Baxter's "Quiet Village" (thanks Enrique), there's practically little to no information about his track on the web (like who J. Elliot might be perhaps), yet this lost groove, with it's sublime synth colouring and heavenly female vocals fits in nicely with the lush and sharp yet smooth style of their better known works..
Another notable selection is Brazilian chanteuse and Queen of Bossa Nova, Astrud Gilberto's disco remake of her hit "The Girl From Ipanema" produced by none other than Mr. Salsoul Orchestra himself, Vince Montana, Jr.. Apparently Montana did an entire album with her, "That Girl From Ipanema" (1977, Audio Fidelity), which I haven't been able to find, but apparently much if it has been reissued on various budget compilations in recent years..
Moses' "Something About You" is also another choice cut; produced by Tommy Stewart, a great producer/arranger who, among other things, put out a great self-titled album that remains one of my favourite funky disco classics. Essentially, it's an album on which this track wouldn't have been out of place..
Another high point which deserves mention is the floating dreaminess and elegant hi-hats of Charlie's Roots' "Show You The Way To Go" a light n' breezy cover of The Jacksons' Gamble & Huff classic. And on a related note, "Again" by The Night People is yet another notable Philly connection, featuring a smooth vocal by none other than legendary Philly drummer and Trammps member, Earl Young himself..
Usually whenever a compilation like this - chock-full of rarities comes along, there are bound to be tracks that have the shine of long-lost treasure, and others that perhaps should have stayed buried.. Although there are definitely tracks that I like more than others; I have to say, surprisingly, that this is one of the more consistent sets of disco rarities (Elisabeth, you were right!) that I've heard so far. It's one of the few since perhaps Disco Spectrum 2 where I can honestly say that I can listen to the whole thing and not feel the need to skip a good few (or several, for that matter)..
Furthermore, the release of this set couldn't have been more well-timed.. The laid-back, breezy disco grooves on here make the perfect disco soundtrack for the summer. Whether these would have been club hits back in the day is perhaps besides the point. The quality of the songs in their own right along with the context and the concept in which they are woven into makes this set one of the more unique, satisfying ones out there. Those particular disco freaks who enjoy digging through the forgotten and undiscovered will likely find a lot, or at least something to like on here. Not to mention, while you're enjoying the music, you can enjoy the stunning artwork in that fold-out digipak along with it, too..
Simply put, not just another collection of rarities, but a trip through new frontiers in disco. As far as Dimitri's disco compilations go; in my opinion, this is perhaps the best one yet.
So put this on, pour yourself a drink, open the windows and enjoy..
Cocktail Disco is currently available on double CD, vinyl and digital download. There are also some Dimitri re-edits/remixes of some of the Cocktail Disco tracks, which appear exclusively on the Vinyl and Digital editions..
PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
HAVE A COCKTAIL.. UPCOMING DISCO COMPILATIONS (JUNE 2007) (THURSDAY MAY 24, 2007)
DIMITRI FROM PARIS PRESENTS COCKTAIL DISCO @ BBE
DIMITRI FROM PARIS PRESENTS COCKTAIL DISCO @ DISCOMUSIC.COM
DIMITRI FROM PARIS' OFFICIAL MYSPACE
DIMITRI FROM PARIS @ ALL MUSIC GUIDE
DIMITRI FROM PARIS @ DISCOGS
THE DETERMINED DILLETTANTE: CIVILIZATION AND IT'S DISCOTHEQUES (MAY 22, 2007)
NEWCITY CHICAGO: COCKTAILS AND DREAMS (JUNE 5, 2007)
BLUES AND SOUL MAGAZINE - REVIEW: DIMITRI FROM PARIS PRESENTS COCKTAIL DISCO (JUNE 6, 2007)
TIME OUT NEW YORK: INTOXICATING RHYTHM (JUNE 7, 2007)
DIMITRI FROM PARIS PRESENTS COCKTAIL DISCO (2 CD)
DUSTY GROOVE | AMAZON.COM | AMAZON.CO.UK | CD UNIVERSE
DIMITRI FROM PARIS PRESENTS COCKTAIL DISCO (DIGITAL DOWNLOAD)
iTUNES | eMUSIC
DIMITRI FROM PARIS PRESENTS COCKTAIL DISCO (VINYL - PART ONE)
JUNO RECORDS | AMAZON.CO.UK | DUSTY GROOVE
DIMITRI FROM PARIS PRESENTS COCKTAIL DISCO (VINYL - PART TWO)
JUNO RECORDS | AMAZON.CO.UK | DUSTY GROOVE
CATEGORIES: REISSUES & RELEASES, DISCO NEWS